Dog ownership rose to 56.7 million households, and cat ownership grew to 45.3 million. These gains in dog- and cat-owning households indicate that the total number of these pets also rose to 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats in the U.S.
Although the number of households owning a pet has increased in all categories from the last survey, the proportion of pet ownership by species has remained stable. Dogs and cats are still the most popular pets, owned by 46.7 and 37.3 percent of US households, respectively. After declining in 2010, ownership of freshwater fish returned to 12 percent. Bird ownership rose slightly to 5.7 percent in 2012. Horse ownership also rebounded in 2012 to 2.3 percent after a slight drop in 2010. Small animal and reptile ownership levels increased to 5.7 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. Saltwater fish ownership increased to 1.5 percent of the total online US population. These rises in pet ownership mean that more households than ever before own small animals, reptiles or saltwater fish.
With the rise in pet ownership, petfood was noted as one of the highest annual expenses for pet owners of all species, except freshwater fish, with US$239 spent on food for dogs and US$203 spent on food for cats. The survey found pet owners' use of pet nutritional supplements and medications is increasing, as well. Veterinarian visits, whether emergency, sick, surgical or routine, are also named as top expenses, particularly among dog, cat and bird owners. The survey also noted that dog owners spend more than cat owners on common expenses.
A rise in the number of multiple pet-owning households to an all-time high of 53.4 million was among contributing factors to the overall growth in pet ownership in 2012. Nearly 40 percent of pet-owning households own multiple types of pets. Similar to past years, the most popular combination of pets owned is a dog and a cat, as noted by 29 percent of pet owners in 2012. Another contributing factor was pet owners' willingness to promote owning a pet to others. In fact, nearly half of pet owners surveyed reported that they heard about their pet's availability by word-of-mouth.
“As an industry, we have been working very hard to promote the joys and benefits of responsible pet ownership, and we are thrilled to see that more people are opening their homes and sharing their families with pets than ever before,” said American Pet Products Association president and CEO, Bob Vetere.